by Maury Koffman, APA President
Today, the APA is proud to be the largest union on campus and been one of the founding members of the Coalition of Labor Organizations (CLO) at Michigan State University. Over the past decade we have accomplished a great deal through openly sharing information between campus unions.
Yet, as time has passed and leadership transitioned within local campus unions, it seems the dynamics changed and the commitment to the founding principles of the CLO faded. With growing frustrations among many CLO members and concerns about political posturing by some CLO leaders with the University administration, the APA Executive Board engaged for months of deliberation whether our participation in the CLO was helpful or harmful to the APA membership.
In the recent months, following the unexpected passing of Charlie Heckman who served as the President of AFSCME Local 999 and also as the chair of the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) on campus, there was an increased unwillingness of CLO unions to openly share information unless demanded.
Elevating the APA’s concerns was the decision of the CLO to move forward with the appointment of a new JHCC Chair at a meeting where the APA and other campus union leaders were unable to attend. Exacerbating the APA concern is that a final vote count was requested by the APA and was denied by those who purportedly participated in the vote. The detailed election results have still not been released.
In considering multiple factors and recognizing that a subset of the CLO intentionally excluded the APA in the deliberations regarding the next JHCC Chair, on April 12, 2016, the APA Executive Board proposed and unanimously adopted a motion to withdraw from the Coalition of Labor Organizations at MSU.
This action of the APA Executive Board will have no direct impact on individual members of the APA and the APA will continue to be actively engaged at JHCC. The function of the unanimous decision of the APA Executive Board to withdraw from the CLO was to affirm that only the APA speaks on behalf of it’s members regarding the APA’s and MSU’s mutually ratified wage and health care agreement.
Both the APA and MSU recognize we have a mutually ratified agreement through December 31, 2017 and have reaffirmed our desire and intent to continue working through the JHCC in a consistent, collaborative manner just as we have in the past.
Finally, how we bargain our wage and health care agreement is a decision that must be made every four years. Withdrawal from the CLO does not prevent the APA from bargaining jointly with other unions should that be the mutual desire when we approach wage and health care negotiations in late 2017.
To put it another way, it is JHCC that addresses the ratified wage and health care agreement. Since nothing has changed between MSU and the APA regarding the wage and health care agreement, and noting the affirmation by both MSU and the APA to continue working in JHCC, we will continue to meet just as we have in the past.
While the APA is disappointed that the actions of a few CLO leaders compelled this result, the APA Executive Board recognized we could not sit silently on the sidelines while decisions were made that adversely impacted the entire APA membership.
If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the APA office at 517.999.4004 or email us at email@example.com.